Douglas DC-6 and DC-7 Tankers

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Here is a retrospective of my photographs of Douglas DC-6 and DC-7 tankers.

Santa Barbara Airport, September 13, 1979

Douglas DC-6B, N333SQ Tanker 54 takes off from the Santa Barbara Airport on September 13, 1979 Sis-Q Flying Service Douglas DC-6B, N333SQ Tanker 54 taxis into the Goleta Tanker Station on September 13, 1979. It was fighting a fire in Winchester Canyon. Tanker 54's Douglas construction number is 44898. It was delivered to United Airlines as Mainliner Honolulu on April 20, 1956. Hall Transfer and Storage bought it on July 3, 1969. Sis-Q Flying Service of Santa Rosa, California bought it in April 1976.

Douglas DC-6B, F-ZBAC Pelican 61 at Marseilles Tanker 54 was sold to the French Securite Civile in June 1980 and registered as F-ZBAC. It flew as Pélican 61 from 1980 to 1990 and then went into storage at Marseilles in 1990. Photo courtesy Cedric Soriano.

Douglas DC-6B, N333SQ Tanker 54 takes off from the Santa Barbara Airport on September 13, 1979 Douglas DC-6B, N333SQ Tanker 54 takes off from the Santa Barbara Airport on September 13, 1979 as jet-pack equipped Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar, N13742 Tanker 88 taxis out of the Goleta Tanker Station. In 1981, Tanker 88 disintegrated in mid-air while fighting a fire near Frazier Park, California, killing its crew of two. Failure of a control cable led to control surface flutter that overstressed the airframe in just a few seconds.

Tankers sighted at Goleta Tanker Station
September 12-13, 1979

Tanker #

Type

Serial

04 Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress N17W
54 Douglas DC-6B N333SQ
87 Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar N13746
88 Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar N13742
96 Grumman S-2 Tracker N416DF

Santa Barbara Airport, July 30, 1980

Douglas DC-6, N90MA Tanker d21 at the Goleta Tanker Station on July 30, 1980 The number-3 engine of Aerial Applicators Douglas DC-6, N90MA Tanker d21 at the Goleta Tanker Station on July 30, 1980. The DC-6 is powered by 2,100-horsepower Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp R-2800 radial engines with three-bladed propellers.

Douglas DC-6, N90MA Tanker d21 at the Goleta Tanker Station on July 30, 1980 Aerial Applicators Douglas DC-6, N90MA Tanker d21 taxiing at the at the Santa Barbara Airport on July 30, 1980. Its Douglas construction number is 43128. It was originally ordered by Scandanavian Airlines System, but it was delivered to British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines as Discovery on September 30, 1948 and registered as VH-BPH. Tasman Empire Airways Limited bought it in May 1954, named it Arahia, and reigstered it as ZK-BFC. The Royal New Zealand Air Force bought it in May 1961 and assigned it tail number NZ3633. Lamb Associates Incorporated bought it on April 26, 1964 and sold it to National Interests Incorporated later that year. Pacific Western Airlines bought it on May 18, 1965, registered it as CF-PWQ, and sold it to Lamb Associates Incorporated on February 17, 1971, which registered it as N90MA. Mercer Airlines bought it on April 3, 1971 and sold it to Aerial Applicators in May 1973. After this picture was taken, Sis-Q Flying Service bought it in June 1981 and sold it to Macavia International Corporation in May 1985. It was stored at Santa Rosa and then sold to T&G Aviation of Chandler, Arizona in February 1991. The registration N90MA has been reassigned to a Cessna Citation.

Douglas DC-7B, N838D Tanker e60 at the Goleta Tanker Station on July 30, 1980 TBM Inc. Douglas DC-7B, N838D Tanker e60 at the Goleta Tanker Station on July 30, 1980. Its Douglas construction number is 45347. It was delivered to Eastern Airlines on February 10, 1958. California Airmotive bought it on January 24, 1966. Airliease Incorporated bought it later that year and leased it to Skyway Travelers. It was repossessed by O'hare International Bank Associates in 1968. Thompson Flying Service bought it in 1968 and withdrew it from use in 1969. It was stored in Tucson, Arizona until Aero Leasing Corporation bought it in June 1970. TBM Inc. acquired it in April 1973. Tanker 60 is still flying for TBM Inc.

Link to the Aerial Firefighting Industry Association (AFIA) web page describing TBM Inc.

Douglas DC-7B, N848D Tanker e61 at the Santa Barbara Airport on July 30, 1980 TBM Inc. Douglas DC-7B, N848D Tanker e61 landing at the Santa Barbara Airport on July 30, 1980. Its Douglas construction number is 45454. It was delivered to Eastern Airlines on May 14, 1958. California Airmotive bought it on January 31, 1966 and sold it to Mobile Aircraft Incorporated in January 1968. McCollum Aviation Incorporated bought it in March 1968, leased it to the Society of Sky Roamers in January 1969, and retired it in April 1970. Christian Flight Services bought it in May 1971. TBM Inc. acquired it in February 1975. Tanker e61 crashed while fighting a fire at Kyburz, California on October 1, 1992. The registration N848D has been reassigned to a Cessna Citation.

Tankers sighted at Goleta Tanker Station
July 30, 1980

Tanker #

Type

Serial

d21 Douglas DC-6 N90MA
e60 Douglas DC-7B N838D
e61 Douglas DC-7B N848D
89 Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress N95632
124 Consolidated P4Y-2G Privateer N2872G

Fox Field, November 26, 1980

Douglas DC-6B, N444SQ Tanker 44 at Fox Field on November 26, 1981 Douglas DC-6B, N444SQ Tanker 44 takes off from Fox Field near Lancaster on November 26, 1980. It was equipped with spinners like a DC-7 but has three-bladed propellers. Its Douglas construction number was 45320. It was delivered to Northwest Orient Airlines as N579 on January 23, 1958. United Arab Airlines bought it on March 16, 1965, registered it as SU-ANO and leased it to Yemen Airways in 1966. Sterling Airways bought it in June 1968 and registered it as OY-STT. It was transferred to Sterling Sweden on July 10, 1971, which registered it as SE-ENZ, leased it to the United Nations in 1968, and retired it in March 1973. Concare Aircraft Leasing Corporation bought it in June 1973 and converted it to a DC-6BF. Sis-Q Flying Service of Santa Rosa, California bought it in March 1975 and gave it its current registration. After this picture was taken it was sold to Macavia International Corporation in May 1985 and then to T&G Aviation in February 1991. Since January 1998, it has been regstered to Nighthawk Air Systems Incorporated of Miami, Florida.

Douglas DC-7B, N848D Tanker e61 at Fox Field on November 26, 1981 TBM Inc. Douglas DC-7B, N848D Tanker e61 takes off from Fox Field near Lancaster on November 26, 1980.

Tankers sighted at Fox Field
November 26, 1980

Tanker #

Type

Serial

06 Lockheed P-2H Neptune N9855F
44 Douglas DC-6B N444SQ
86 Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar N13744
124 Consolidated P4Y-2G Privateer N2872G

Santa Barbara Airport, November 28, 1980

Douglas DC-7B, N999SQ Tanker 51 at the Goleta Tanker Station on November 28, 1980 Sis-Q Flying Service Douglas DC-6B, N999SQ Tanker 51 at the Goleta Tanker Station on November 28, 1980. Its Douglas construction number is 43274. It was delivered to Swissair as Zurich on June 24, 1951. Over the years it was renamed Schaffhausen and later Aargau. Sterling Airways bought it on August 23, 1962 and leased it to Trollair in January 1972. Concare Aircraft Leasing Corporation bought it in April 1973, registering it first as N515AO and then as N515EA. Seminole Aviation bought it in June 1973 and sold it to Sis-Q Flying Service in January 1976. After this picture was taken it was sold to Macavia International Corporation in May 1985 and then to T&G Aviation in February 1991. Since February 24, 1994, it has been registered to Everts Air Fuel Incorporated of Fairbanks, Alaska. Note the Boeing B-17 tanker in the background at right.

Douglas DC-7C, N5903 Tanker 35 at the Goleta Tanker Station on November 28, 1980 International Air Response Douglas DC-7C, N5903 Tanker 35 at the Goleta Tanker Station on November 28, 1980. Its Douglas construction number is 45071. It was delivered to Braniff Airlines on November 30, 1956. Club america Incorporated bought it on November 30, 1969 and leased it to Grand Funk Railroad from March 1971 to June 1971. Magic Carpet Air Travel leased it in August 1971. A. Ledya bought it in 1975 and sold it to T&G Aviation Incorporated in June 1976. After this picture was taken, it ditched following engine failure after take off from Dakar, Senegal on October 9, 1986. Three crew members were killed. The sole passenger survived.

The fuselage of the DC-7C was extended 3-1/2 feet compared to the DC-7B. The wing span of the DC-7C was increased by adding a five-foot section inboard of the engines. There are no DC-7Cs still fighting wild fires.

Link to the International Air Response web site.

Tankers sighted at Goleta Tanker Station
November 28, 1980

Tanker #

Type

Serial

35 Douglas DC-7C N5903
51 Douglas DC-6B N999SQ
65 Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress N5237V
127 Consolidated P4Y-2G Privateer N6884C

Santa Barbara Airport, December 1980

Douglas DC-7B, N999SQ Tanker 51 at the Goleta Tanker Station in December 1980 Sis-Q Flying Services Douglas DC-6B, N999SQ Tanker 51 at the Goleta Tanker Station in December 1980.

Tankers sighted at Goleta Tanker Station
December 1980

Tanker #

Type

Serial

51 Douglas DC-6 N999SQ
145 Lockheed P-2H Neptune N206EV

Santa Barbara Airport, October 1981

Douglas DC-7B, N838D Tanker e60 at the Goleta Tanker Station in October 1981 TBM Inc. Douglas DC-7B, N838D Tanker e60 at the Goleta Tanker Station in October 1981.

Tankers sighted at Goleta Tanker Station
October 1981

Tanker #

Type

Serial

e60 Douglas DC-7B N838D
e61 Douglas DC-7B N848D
82 Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar N13745
121 Consolidated P4Y-2G Privateer N2871G

Gila Bend Indian Reservation Memorial Airport, December 30, 1981

Douglas DC-7C, N90804 Tanker 28 at the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Memorial Airport on December 30, 1981 Douglas DC-7C, N90804 Tanker 28 at the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Memorial Airport on December 30, 1981. Its Douglas construction number is 45116. It was delivered to British Overseas Airways Corporation as G-AOIF on December 29, 1956. F. B. Ayer bought it in June 1964, gave it its current registration and sold it to Saturn Airways three months later. It was put into storage at Miami, Florida in January 1968. Fleet Leasing of America bought it in May 1969, immediately leased it to Sky Hoppers Travel Club, and then sold it to Great Lakes Aero Leasing in January 1970. Dodds Corporation bought it in June 1970, immediately leased it to Century 2000 Travel Club, and sold it to W. F. Monahan in September 1972. Aerial Applicators Incorporated bought it in June 1975 and sold it to Douglas County Aviation in July 1981. It has been registered to T&G Aviation since June 23, 1994. The Gila Bend Indian Reservation Memorial Airport is now known as the Chandler Memorial Airport.

Link to the visitingphx.com page describing Chandler Memorial Airport.

Douglas DC-7B, N51701 Tanker 31 at the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Memorial Airport on December 30, 1981 Douglas DC-7B, N51701 Tanker 31 at the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Memorial Airport on December 30, 1981. Its Douglas construction number is 44701. It was delivered to Pan american Grace Airways on July 18, 1955. National Airlines bought it on November 9, 1964 and sold it to Argonaut less than one month later on December 1. Travelaires bought it on May 25, 1966 and sold it to Skyway Investors Corporation on July 25, 1967. Citizens National Bank of Greater St. Louis repossessed it on August 3, 1971 and sold it to Young Aviation Corporation on November 16, 1971. Midcoast Aviation Resources repossesed it on November 16, 1972 and sold it to Maricopa Dust and Spray twelve days later. Air Tankers Incorporated bought it on July 12, 1973, leased it to the United States Forest Service in July 1974, and retired it in 1975. Mary P. Hine bought it on April 29, 1980 and transferred it to T&G Aviation the same day. Tanker number 31 was reassigned to an International Air Response Lockheed C-130A Hercules that was subsequently grounded.

Douglas DC-7C, N9374Z Tanker 32 at the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Memorial Airport on December 30, 1981 Douglas DC-7C, N9734Z Tanker 32 at the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Memorial Airport on December 30, 1981. Its Douglas construction number is 45215 It was delivered to Scandanavian Airlines System as SE-CCF, Yngve Viking on December 13, 1957. It was badly damaged in a collision with an Ethiopian DC-6B at Khartoum, Sudan. Its nose was replaced with the nose of the former American Airlines DC-7, N317AA Flagship Indiana, which had been damaged in a landing accident at Norfolk, Virginia on September 26, 1961 while leased to Overseas National Airways. Lee Mansdorf and Company bought it in March 1962 and registered it as N9734Z. Consolidated American bought it in 1966, leased it to Facilities Management in 1969. Northwest Aero Industries bought it in September 1972, leased it to Starduster Air Travel in July 1973, and sold it to Sergio Tomassoni in January 1976. T&G Aviation leased it in February 1977 and bought it in November 1982. It was exported to Spain in August 1995. Tanker number 31 was reassigned to an International Air Response Lockheed C-130A Hercules that was subsequently grounded.

Douglas DC-7B, N4887C Tanker 33 at the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Memorial Airport on December 30, 1981 International Air Response Douglas DC-7B, N4887C Tanker 33 at the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Memorial Airport on December 30, 1981. Its Douglas construction number is 45351. It was delivered to Delta Airlines as N4887C on November 25, 1957. BMR Aviation bought it on March 31, 1968. Emerald Shillelagh Air Travel Club bought it in May 1968. C. M. Belew bought it in July 1972, leased it to Sun's Travel Club in May 1973 and sold it to T&G Aviation in May 1980. Tanker 33 is still flying for International Air Response.


Santa Barbara Airport, October 1982

Douglas DC-7B Tanker 67 at the Goleta Tanker Station in October 1982 TBM Inc. Douglas DC-7B, N6318C Tanker 67 starts up its Number-4 R-3350 engine at the Goleta Tanker Station in October 1982. A flammable cloud of partially combusted oil droplets belches from the exhaust pipes.

Douglas DC-7B Tanker 67 at the Goleta Tanker Station in October 1982 TBM Inc. Douglas DC-7B, N6318C Tanker 67 at the Goleta Tanker Station in October 1982. A Lockheed C-141B Starlifter is rolling on the runway in the background. Starlifters were regular visitors to the Santa Barbara Airport during the Reagan administration. They carried support vehicles that were used while Ronald Reagan was visiting Rancho Cielo near the top of Refugio Pass west of Santa Barbara.


Santa Barbara Airport, July 10, 1983

Douglas DC-7B Tanker 67 at the Santa Barbara Airport on July 10, 1983 Butler Aircraft Douglas DC-7B, N6318C Tanker 67 taxis at the Santa Barbara Airport on July 10, 1983. Its Douglas construction number is 44282. It was delivered to United Airlines as Mainliner Kauai on October 26, 1954. It was later renamed Mainliner Bakersfield (how humiliating!). Douglas Aircraft Company bought it back on July 29, 1960. Aircraft Investment Corporation bought it on Valentines Day of 1964 and immediately leased it to Vance International Airways, which bought it in 1965. Argosy Travel Club leased it in 1971 and Butler Aircraft Corporation bought it in March 1973.

Douglas DC-7B Tanker 67 at the Santa Barbara Airport on July 10, 1983 Butler Aircraft Douglas DC-7B, N6318C Tanker 67 takes off from the Santa Barbara Airport on July 10, 1983. After these pictures were taken it suffered damage to its wing spar and was grounded. Since at least 1996, it has been used as an engine test stand by Butler Aircraft Company at Redmond, Oregon.


Santa Barbara Airport, July 1985

Douglas DC-7B, N838D Tanker e60 at the Goleta Tanker Station on July 30, 1980 TBM Inc. Douglas DC-7B, N838D Tanker e60 takes off from the Santa Barbara Airport in July 1985.

Tankers sighted at Goleta Tanker Station
July 1985

Tanker #

Type

Serial

02 Douglas C-54 (DC-4) N11712
e60 Douglas DC-7B N838D
140 Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar N8093
145 Lockheed P-2H Neptune N206EV
166 Douglas C-54 (DC-4) N90203

Reno Stead Airport, September 15, 1991

Douglas DC-7B, N838D Tanker e60 at the Reno Air Races on September 15, 1991 TBM Inc. Douglas DC-7B, N838D Tanker e60 at the Reno Air Races on September 15, 1991.


Santa Barbara Airport, May 12, 2002

DC-6 #68, N90739 at the Santa Barbara Airport on May 12, 2002 Douglas DC-6, N90739 Tanker 68 cranks up number-1 engine at the start of the first mission of the day on May 12, 2002. It is operated by TBM Inc. and based in Prescott, Arizona. Its Douglas construction number is 43044. It was delivered to American Airlines as Flagship Georgia on October 10, 1947. F.B. Ayer and Associates bought it on November 17, 1966 and sold it to Miami Aviation Corporation on April 4, 1967. Dallas Aero Services leased it in October 1968, bought it in May 1969, and retired it in 1970. TBM Inc. acquired it in 1973. It is the only DC-6 still fighting wild fires.

DC-6 #68, N90739 at the Santa Barbara Airport on May 12, 2002 TBM Inc. Douglas DC-6, N90739 Tanker 68

DC-6 #68, N90739 at the Santa Barbara Airport on May 12, 2002 TBM Inc. Douglas DC-6, N90739 Tanker 68 landing at the Santa Barbara Airport on May 12, 2002.

DC-6 #68, N90739 at the Santa Barbara Airport on May 12, 2002 TBM Inc. Douglas DC-6, N90739 Tanker 68 landing at the Santa Barbara Airport on May 12, 2002.

Tankers Sighted at Goleta Tanker Station
May 11-12, 2002

Tanker # Type Serial Operator Home Base c/n military serial
21 P-3A-45 N921AU Aero Union Winslow 185-6098 BuNo 151385
23 P-3A-40 N923AU Aero Union Prescott 185-5085 BuNo 151372
26 P-3B-65 N926AU Aero Union Fort Huachuca 185-5171 BuNo 152731
67 C-130A-9 N531BA Butler Aircraft Santa Barbara 182-3139 56-531
68 DC-6 N90739 Butler Aircraft Prescott 43044  
72 S-2T N435DF CDF Hemet 0382-029  
89 S-2T N425DF CDF Grass Valley 0341-029 BuNo 152825
90 S-2T N434DF CDF Ukiah 0382-034  
91 S-2T N428DF CDF Ukiah 0865-018 BuNo 149862
131 C-130A N131HP Hawkins Powers Ogden 182-3142 56-534
152 C-54D-15/DC-4 N9015Q EMI Services Lancaster 22178 43-17228
160 C-54E-5/DC-4 N96358 AeroFlite Ramona 27284 44-9058

Santa Barbara Airport, September 26, 2003

Douglas DC-7B, N6353C Tanker 66 at the Goleta Tanker Station on September 26,2003 Butler Aircraft Douglas DC-7B, N6353C Tanker 66 visited the Goleta Tanker Station in September 2003. It was delivered to United Airlines as Mainliner Lincoln on April 11, 1958. Its Douglas construction number is 45486. Acme Aircraft Inc. bought it on May 27, 1964 and sold it to International Aerodyne in 1965. Ports of Call Travel Club leased it in May 1966. TBM Inc. of Tulare, California bought it in March 1975. Butler Aircraft Company of Redmond, Oregon is a subsidiary of TBM Inc.

Douglas DC-7B, N6353C Tanker 66 at the Goleta Tanker Station on September 26,2003 Tanker 66 is one of only four DC-7s still fighting wildfires. The DC-7B is powered by 3,250-horsepower Wright R-3350-18DA-4 turbo-compound radial engines with four-bladed propellers.

Link to the Butler Aircraft Company web page.


Fox Field, November 25, 2007

I read a report on Inciweb that 13 tankers, including the DC-10 and two SuperScoopers, fought the Corral Fire near Malibu on Saturday, November 24, 2007. I went to Fox Field near Lancaster on Sunday morning to photograph the tanker operations. When I arrived there were two Butler Aircraft Douglas DC-7s and four Neptune Aviation Services Lockheed P-2 Neptunes parked at the tanker station. The Santa Ana winds had died down, and the tankers were not flying.

The Fox Field Tanker Station on November 25, 2007.

Butler Aircraft Douglas DC-7 N401US Tanker 62 was delivered to United Airlines as N6331C Mainliner Kansas City on February 13, 1957. Its construction number 45145. C & J Aircraft Leasing bought it and gave it its current registration on January 21, 1964. It was leased to U.S. Overseas Airlines. Stanley D. Weiss bought it in 1965 and sold it to Nathaniel Hawthorne College in January 1968. Pacific Coast Airlines leased it in July 1969. Porter Aircraft Services bought it in January 1970 and sold it to A. W. McDonnell in December 1970. Hemet Valley Flying Service bought it in April 1973 and sold it to Butler Aircraft Company in March 1976.

Butler Aircraft Douglas DC-7 N6353C Tanker 66

DC-7 N401US Tanker 62 and DC-7 N6353C Tanker 66 and a really big Smokey the Bear hat.

DC-7 N401US Tanker 62

Lockheed P2V-5H Neptune N443NA Tanker 43, DC-7 N401US Tanker 62, DC-7 N6353C Tanker 66, and Lockheed P2V-5F Neptune N96278 Tanker 05.

DC-7 N401US Tanker 62, DC-7 N6353C Tanker 66, and Lockheed P2V-5F Neptune N96278 Tanker 05.


More Tanker Photos

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Specifications of Douglas Transports

  DC-4 DC-6 DC-6B DC-7B DC-7C
Seven Seas
XC-74 Globemaster
Length 93 feet 10 inches 100 feet 7 inches 105 feet 7 inches 108 feet 11 inches 112 feet 3 inches 124 feet 2 inches
Wing Span 117 feet 6 inches 117 feet 6 inches 117 feet 6 inches 117 feet 6 inches 127 feet 6 inches 173 feet 3 inches
Height 27 feet 6 inches 28 feet 5 inches 28 feet 5 inches 28 feet 7 inches 31 feet 8 inches 43 feet
Engines 1,350 hp R-2000 1,800 hp R-2800 1,900 hp R-2800 3,250 hp R-3350 turbo-compound 3,400 hp R-3350 turbo-compound 3,500 hp R-4360
Range 2,500 miles 3,340 miles 3,860 miles 2,850 miles 5,600 miles 3,500 miles
Maximum Take-off Weight 73,000 pounds 97,200 pounds 106,000 pounds 122,200 pounds 143,000 pounds 145,000 pounds

Much of the information on this page was extracted from Piston Engine Airliner Production List by A. B. Eastwood and J. Roach, published by The Aviation Hobby Shop,


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